The digital world has been something I have dreaded to face as a parent.
Actually its not dread… just caution. Maybe a mix of both.
I’ve read the dangers and seen the stunt videos of kids meeting up with strangers with whom they’ve struck up a conversation online, unbeknownst to the parent.
I’ve read about grooming and sexting, blackmail and cyberbullying which can follow our kids’ home through their device.
Much of what I’ve read has come from online through my own work in the digital space.
The digital world can make parenting feel overwhelming and scary. It’s not like we can get advice from our parents or grandparents because they were never raised, nor did they raise kids in a digital world like we do.
The extreme approach would be to ban my kids from being on social media and leave it as late as possible when giving them their own phone.
Yet that’s not a realistic approach and despite the dangers, the online world has a lot of good to offer our kids too.
- A phone can offer safety of messaging between parent and teen as independence is explored
- Most jobs these days have a digital presence which our kids need to know in order to stay relevant
- The new normal of this year has meant our digital use has increased to keep life going in isolation – ie online grocery shopping or paying bills online.
- Information can be readily available for new learning
And these are just a few of the good things that came to mind.
When I reflect on my digital use, on the whole, I enjoy it.
I love the immediate connection to friends and family via group chats. I love sharing photos of our family holidays and I enjoy researching ideas for decorating or watching influences or reading blogs and commenting.
My goal as a parent raising kids in a digital world
I want my kids to have a positive experience with the digital world. I want to equip them on making good decisions with what they watch, what they share, who they share it with and how they interact online.
But how do I equip myself as a parent when technology changes so quickly?
How do I stay relevant as a parent so my kids can have a healthy understanding of technology and are confident I’m the one to turn to if something goes wrong?
Enter the book all parents need to read: The Modern Parent by Martine Oglethorpe.
The Modern Parent: Book Review
I’ve known Martine through her blog of the same name The Modern Parent, which is a great online resource for parents, students and educators for eSafety.
The book itself was easy to read and helped alleviate some of my extreme fears with raising my kids in an online world.
But it also tackled some myths head on.
The first chapter of the book debunks many of the myths and mindsets of the online world. I recognised a few mindsets I’d picked up which needed a bit of a wake up.
The second chapter offers considerations for parents when deciding if their child is ready for their own device.
And then the book gets into the nitty gritty of teaching parents (who will teach their kids) on how to be critical of the online content they consume.
Not all of what is online is true and often its opinions rather than fact. We can know this as adults, but kids don’t.
The book also outlines the must know behaviours of grooming and how to approach image based abuse.
There are also the elements of teaching kids about their own interactions online like how to make their social media use a good experience and not one they regret or causes anxiety.
For example, commenting can turn into a rabbit hole of emotional angst. Teaching kids how to manage their online conversations and when to abort a conversation to prevent a negative digital footprint, is necessary.
It’s not a skill that comes naturally to kids though as we know adults can get sucked into a commenting thread with the sole outcome of jibing with the best comeback.
Martine shares an activity she conducts with students on ways to predict where a conversation will go and offers tips on how to abort.
Group chats, cyberbullying, effective screen time management and gaming are also put in the spotlight.
The Modern Parent book has offered me tips on how I will teach my kids effective digital use, and it’s a resource I will turn to multiple times to help navigate whatever digital season my kids are exploring.
I’m certainly more confident with my kids screen time and their digital use after reading Martine’s book.
If you want to feel better equipped as a parent when navigating the online world as your children start to dip their toes further into the digital space, be sure to read The Modern Parent.
It might even help you with your own digital footprint. As parents, we often learn from experience (the ignore and scroll, rather than rage and engage) but having a book to refer to when dealing with online behavior can certainly give peace of mind and prevent unnecessary angst
The Modern Parent can be purchased here.
You can also connect with Martine online through social media